How much are Singaporeans willing to do for wildlife conservation?Who should play the biggest role in protecting biodiversity? Are zoos simply a leisure destination? Today, Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) released its findings from a commissioned ConservationSentiments Survey, conducted to shed light on the attitudes, perceptions and behaviours ofSingaporeans on the topic of conservation and sustainability.
Dr Cheng Wen Haur, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Wildlife Reserves Singapore, shared, “As amission led organisation, wildlife conservation is core to our work. We embarked on the ConservationSentiments Survey to gain a better understanding behind the attitudes and motivations ofSingaporeans when it comes to conservation, and the results were insightful. Zoos have made greatadvances over the past few decades and today, modern zoos like ours play a crucial role in the fightagainst species extinction through contributions in animal care, education, public engagement,research and protecting wildlife in their native habitats. By connecting people to animals viameaningful wildlife experiences, we hope to inspire as many people as possible to play a part to savewildlife. It is reassuring to know that a majority of Singaporeans have a heart for wildlife andconservation issues, and it reaffirms our commitment to continue reaching out and developing suitableplatforms for everyone to join us in this endeavour.
”Wildlife conservation - A generational preference?
One of the survey’s key areas of focus was to determine how people in Singapore perceived wildlifeconservation, and the factors that would motivate them to do more. While one in two of thosesurveyed has participated in wildlife conservation efforts 2 , the top reasons cited for those who havenever been involved in such efforts include not having the time (40 per cent) or not knowing where tobegin (39 per cent). However, nearly two in five (38 per cent) of those who have not, indicated thatthey are motivated to take steps towards it.
In fact, of those who actively support social causes, it was found that Generation Z respondents agedbetween 16 and 24 years old are nearly twice as inclined to support wildlife conservation compared to Singaporeans above 45 years old. Top actions they cited include taking steps in their daily life thatwould help the environment and wildlife (61 per cent); donating to wildlife organisations (58 per cent)and visiting wildlife parks/zoos or signing a petition/pledge (51 per cent). When asked what mightmotivate them to do more for wildlife conservation, Generation Z’s top driver was having morefinancial resources (45 per cent).
Meanwhile, the top motivator for millennials aged between 25 and 34 years old is knowing how theiractions would create impact (47 per cent), while those above 55 years old cited watching an inspiringdocumentary or movie about wildlife (35 per cent) as their top motivator.
Learning about wildlife through modern zoos still critical in the digital age
With the availability of technology and online resources in today’s digital age, it is no surprise thatthree in four Singaporeans learn about wildlife from watching television, movies and documentaries. However, this does not replace the valuable experience that modern zoos bring as revealed in the survey, with almost eight in ten (76 per cent) people who visited WRS parks (Singapore Zoo, NightSafari, River Safari and Jurong Bird Park) describing it as a great place to learn more about wildlife.
The study also revealed that the impact of these experiences extends beyond the visits - with nearlytwo third (60 per cent) of those surveyed being inspired to do more for wildlife conservation after theirvisit to a WRS park. These include actions such as reading up about wildlife and/or conservation (36per cent); making sustainable lifestyle/behavioural changes (22 per cent) and exploring ways tocontribute to wildlife conservation (21 per cent). In addition, the study also found that regular visitors 3of WRS parks are seven times more likely to participate more regularly in wildlife conservation efforts,compared to those who don’t visit as often.
Zoos expected to be more than leisure destinations
Apart from being an educational resource and a leisure destination, modern zoos play an importantrole in safeguarding biodiversity - and public expectations are high on that front. For WRS parks inparticular, survey respondents looked towards them to provide a protective habitat for animals (69 percent); encourage people to take part in wildlife conservation (61 per cent); save animals fromextinction (54 per cent), and help animals in the wild (39 per cent). Beyond the parks’ boundaries, WRS contributes to local and regional conservation efforts throughfunding and support in the areas of enabling wildlife-friendly livelihood for local communities, capacitybuilding, education, and awareness-raising. This includes the Wildlife Reserves SingaporeConservation Fund (WRSCF) that was introduced in 2009 to support projects that contribute toSingapore’s biodiversity research and conservation. Over the last five years, WRS has also supportedand funded more than 100 field projects in Southeast Asia, working in collaboration with conservationpartners to positively impact more than 68 threatened species and their habitats. As accreditedmembers of international and regional zoo associations 4 , WRS also works closely with the global zoocommunity to support species-conservation management plans and raise awareness on wildlifeconservation issues.
Whether it is contributing to wildlife conservation efforts through monetary donations, volunteeringtime or even making sustainable lifestyle changes, WRS offers various ways in which Singaporeanscan play an active role. Some examples include donating through micro-sponsorships or adopting ananimal; participating in WRS programmes such as Hello from The Wild Side - a virtual interactionsession with animals; volunteering as a Conservation Ambassador, docent or Wildlife Buddy or simplyvisiting one of the four wildlife parks. WRS also recently introduced its Conservation Includedcampaign to raise awareness of the impact of each guests’ visit to its conservation efforts inSingapore and the region.
Dr Cheng added, “Our four wildlife parks have a combined 129 years of connecting people to wildlife,and we hope to be able to continue this engagement to build affinity for wildlife and spread themessage of wildlife conservation. We are constantly looking for ways to bolster our efforts for theconservation of threatened species and their wild habitats, but we cannot do this alone. Everyone canplay a part. We hope that the meaningful experiences at our wildlife parks and the variety of initiativeswe have available for Singaporeans to be a part of can help to encourage more people to take actiontoday, for tomorrow.”